Appalachian State University selected for pilot program

Joshua Farmer

Appalachian State University will be one of five UNC schools chosen by UNC-system President Thomas Ross to participate in a pilot program for the Collegiate Learning Assessment standardized testing.

The pilot program is a result of the UNC system Board of Governor’s Strategic Plan, which mentioned one way the board would assess the schools is through the CLA standardized testing, Chancellor Kenneth Peacock said.

Appalachian has participated in the CLA twice before and may be one of the reasons it was chosen, Peacock said.

“I prefer that because when they are implementing policy and they are measuring the value of something, I like Appalachian State to be at the table with a voice,” Peacock said. “I prefer that from someone else doing it and we just learn the results.”

The pilot program will allow monitoring of the test to see if it will be effective, Peacock said.
Because the test is part of a pilot program, it will not be a part of any student’s transcripts or files, Peacock said.

The test will assess what a student knows when they enter Appalachian and how much he or she knows upon graduation, Peacock said.

Government and Justice studies professor Andy Koch is the chair of ASU’s delegation to the statewide Faculty Assembly in North Carolina.

Koch said that the Faculty Assembly was very much opposed to the use of standardized testing.
The assembly does not think that a standardized test is a good measurement of what a student learns while in college because students study in different subject matter,” Koch said.

“There is also a concern about what the CLA measures because we teach so many things,” Koch said. “The CLA does not capture the complexity of the learning experience.”

The Faculty Assembly voted to oppose the use of standardized testing Jan. 8, Koch said.

“There is also a concern that this would create incentives toward teaching to a test and really undermining the faculty’s role in establishing a curriculum,” he said.

The other institutions chosen to participate in the pilot program are Fayetteville State University, Western Carolina University, East Carolina University and University of North Carolina at Pembroke, said Director of Institutional Research and Planning Bobby Sharp.

Sharp said that the timeline for the test that is currently being considered would put the first administration of the test in fall 2013 to the incoming freshmen. The test will also be given to seniors in spring 2014.

The test would be given to a random sample of up to 300 students from each class, but the students selected can opt out of taking the test, Sharp said.

Appalachian has administered the CLA twice before in the span of 2009-12, Sharp said. However, with this program, a revised version of the CLA will be used, called CLA Plus.

“Its not anything new to us in terms of how to administrate the logistics of the test,” Sharp said. “The test itself will be what is new.”

The test is administered online and is monitored as well as timed, Sharp said.

Story: STEPHANIE SANSOUCY, Senior News Reporter